'Dancing With the Stars' premiere recap: Jordan Fisher and Lindsey Stirling stand out
By Amy Watts
For The Baltimore Sun|
Sep 19, 2017 | 1:30 PM
Terrell Owens and Debbie Gibson are among the contestants for the new season of "Dancing with the Stars."
The opening number for Season 25 of "Dancing With the Stars" is a seriously high-concept number that has the feel of being filmed on an old studio backlot. I only know about two-thirds of these contestants, as usual.
Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeronare back as hosts, and in case you don't know, Erin got married over the summer — and maybe even more importantly, adopted a golden retriever puppy. She's worth a follow on Instagram just for the cute puppy pics.
Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke
This is Cheryl's 20th season on "DWTS." Dang! If you don't know Terrell, he's a former NFL star, often known by his nickname T.O. He explains that Terrell isn't scary, but T.O. might come off a little cocky. Dude, just bring whoever's the better dancer.
Why are so many of these former football players pigeon-toed when they dance? This isn't an entirely rhetorical question. Their height difference may prove problematic for the ballroom dances in hold but tonight Terrell and Cheryl look great together.
Because 13 couples are dancing tonight, Tom says, only one of the three judges (Julianne Hough has not returned as a judge this season) will give comments for each dance.
Len Goodman tells Terrell his feet are a bit soft and he needs to straighten his knees and dance tall.
Tom says that "Terrell rhymes with Cheryl." Huh. I always pronounced it in my head with the emphasis on the second syllable, like, Tuh-RELL. I guess I'm confusing him with another NFL great, Terrell Davis.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5; Len: 5; Bruno: 5
People are acting like those are bad scores, but for Week 1, it's fine.
Debbie Gibson and Alan Bersten
Debbie, is of course, the super successful '80s pop star. Alan is newly promoted from the troupe to full-time pro partner. Debbie says she's doing the show because about four years ago she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Apparently, it's done a number on her muscular fitness.
They're dancing to Debbie's hit song, "Lost in Your Eyes." It's entirely possible I used to own this as a cassingle. Debbie's had some professional dance experience, having done at least one Broadway show, in addition to years of concert choreography.
Bruno Tonioli calls it lovely and dreamy and likes their partnering and chemistry. He does want Debbie to watch her arms and shoulders, especially during underarm tours. She also needs to arch her back more to create a better ballroom frame.
Apparently next week, we'll get ballroom on Monday night and the first elimination of the season, and Latin on Tuesday night and a second elimination.
Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko
Sasha, filling the ABC Family/Freeform slot, is an actress known best for "Pretty Little Liars." Her go-to move is standing still and shaking her butt. However, her parents were both competitive ballroom dancers. She's doing the show to get into shape for her upcoming wedding.
Y'all, she's not very good at all. She's still mostly just shaking her butt, this time with a fancy arm extension.
Carrie Ann Inaba asks Sasha if she's feeling fierce. She says Sasha hits all the angles and her hands were fantastic. Carrie Ann also points out that Sasha got ahead of the music at first and never quite got the right rhythm.
Huh. I thought that was the worst dance we've seen so far, not the best.
Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Drew is one half of the Property Brothers, the home renovation duo with a show on HGTV. Emma is the reigning Mirror Ball champion. Drew tells Emma that if they win the Mirror Ball trophy, he'll come renovate her kitchen.
Drew is getting married in a few months and is hoping to get some new moves before then. He's really tall, with a foot difference between him and Emma. She and Cheryl are the same height, but Drew's an inch taller than Terrell.
His feet are terrible, his timing is off, but his smile is big and his attitude is good.
Len calls him a fixer-upper. He rattles off that Drew needs to pick up his feet and put more finesse into his hands, and points out a huge mistake that took a long time to recover from in the middle of the dance.
Oh, look, it's another "Shark Tank" shark. Barbara is looking forward to any partner, because, she observes, they're all ripped, gorgeous, and 20 years younger than her. (Twenty, Barb, really?)
A Ludacris joint seemed like a good fit for this woman? That's just mean, show. They don't move across the stage at all and there are too many obvious mistakes to count.
Bruno wants Barbara to push her hips more. He said her intentions were clearly good, but the execution wasn't there.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5; Len: 4; Bruno: 5
People boo the 4, but it was totally deserved.
Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Jordan is a singer and actor, best known for "Hamilton" on Broadway. Lindsay is excited that Jordan is her age, 23. Lindsay's really hoping Jordan will be her ticket to her first Mirror Ball trophy win.
Well, Lindsay, you may get your wish. That was easily the best dance of the night and he's clearly a good dancer who will only get better with practice.
Carrie Ann is so excited she's having trouble with words. She praises Jordan's body contact throughout the dance.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd
Nick's brother Drew was the champion of Season 2. Apparently, Nick is the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas. Drew is there in the audience and, wow, do they look alike. Nick explains that even though he was in a boy band, 98 Degrees was the non-dancing boy band.
Nick's wife, Vanessa, is also a contestant this season and they've partnered the married contestants with the married pros: Peta and Maks.
Len likes that Nick came out and went for it. Erin rolls tape from a 2009 interview in which Nick said he would never ever do "Dancing with the Stars." Nice.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Vanessa seems super competitive, which I like. She also seems a little bit goofy, which I also like.
Maks is dancing tonight in a sheer turtleneck shirt. I definitely don't like that. There's also way too much faffing about at the beginning with baby carriages. Maks is one of the worst offenders for faffing about, isn't he?
Bruno calls her a "yummy mummy." He says she did really well, with her foot placement, line finishing and posture.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
There's a guy sitting behind the judges, right between Len and Bruno and he's doing that hipster thing of wearing a short sleeved shirt with all the buttons buttoned up and he's also wearing a hat that Debbie Gibson would've stolen back in the day. He's super focus pulling every time they show the judges. If I were the show's director, I would've moved him during the first commercial break.
Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Frankie is an actor, known for the tv series "Malcolm in the Middle" and the film franchise "Agent Cody Banks." He says he's cool with Witney calling him Cody Banks or people calling him Malcolm, because he's proud of his acting work.
He's trying hard, although there are some stiffness issues in some of his moves and poses. Hopefully that's just first dance nerves and he'll loosen up.
Carrie Ann calls it a beautiful and endearing performance. She compliments his posture and upper half, even if he's stiff in the legs.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev
Nikki is a WWE wrestler. When she and Artem are introduced at a WWE event, she gets him into the ring and body slams him. She's engaged to fellow WWE star John Cena.
Nikki could be a dark horse contender this season. She's clearly athletic, and from the WWE knows how to learn choreography and how to play to a crowd. And I wouldn't underestimate the voting power of WWE fans.
Len says Nikki lost a bit on her underarm turns. He wants her to stop looking down while she dances.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 6
Derek Fisher and Sharna Burgess
Derek is a former NBA star. Sharna points out that, historically, basketball players haven't done well on the show and she's hoping to change that with Derek. Derek says that "DWTS" is his mom's favorite TV show and adds that she's going to freak when he tells her he's on the show. Sure enough, he video calls his parents and when he tells his mom, she ululates for a good 10 seconds. When she calms down, she admonishes him, "Now, remember, Len watches the feet." I already like you, Derek's mom.
I'm tickled they've reached back for Kurtis Blow's "Basketball" for this number. Sharna's choreography is, as usual, excellent.
Bruno says the number was tailor-made for Derek to shine. He does want Derek to work on his hip action if he gets the salsa again.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy
Victoria is an ESPN host who was a swimmer in the Paralympics. She was paralyzed for 10 years. At age 11, she had an illness that put her in a persistent vegetative state for four years. At age 15, she started to recover and used a wheelchair for the next six years of her life, only relearning how to walk last year. She tells Val that even though she can use her legs to walk, she has nerve damage that prevents her from feeling her legs.
She's grinning from ear to ear throughout the entire routine and seems to have a great attitude and work ethic. Those are two things that can take you pretty far in this competition. She's overcome by emotion at the end of the dance and, in the audience, her mother clearly is, too.
Carrie Ann says it was one of the most joyous routines she's ever seen on the show. She praises Victoria's balance and her crisp, clean leg action.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Lindsey is a musician, who plays an electric violin. Mark is back with a new ridiculous hairstyle.
Lindsey already knows how to play not just to the audience, but also the camera. She's got a body perfectly suited for dancing and does really well with the unusual choreography Mark's given her. She'll be sticking around for a long, long time this season.
Len calls it crisp and clean and praises her hip and leg action.